Politics

Watering down green pledges not ‘cynical ploy’ but what is ‘right’ – minister

Rishi Sunak’s watering down of climate pledges is not a “cynical ploy” – but is rather the prime minister doing “what is right”, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has said.

Last night, Mr Sunak announced a raft of changes to the UK’s climate pledges, including delaying the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by five years to 2035.

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The move has been welcomed by some Conservative MPs, who, believing it may be popular with voters, have been calling for green policies to be delayed to avoid exacerbating the cost of living crisis.

But it has been opposed by sections of the business community, opposition parties, and campaigners – including Al Gore.

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One of the critics of the move was Lord Goldsmith, a Conservative former minister.

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Ms Badenoch told Sky News: “I know Zac Goldsmith very well. He is a friend… I fundamentally disagree with what he has said.

“We are listening to the concerns people are raising with us. Most people in this country do not have the kind of money that he has.”

Last week, Ms Badenoch visited the BMW MINI plant in Oxford as the company announced it would build its next generation electric vehicles there, securing government funding in the process.

She was asked if yesterday’s roll-back was known about when she announced the deal.

The business secretary said: “Well, I had been making representations to the prime minister – he had not made his decision known to all of us.

“But these were conversations that we were having, So I’m quite pleased that this has happened.”

The car industry was one of the most vocal critics of the governmental change, as many had planned to stop selling ICE vehicles in seven years time.

Ford was the most sceptical, saying that the new path undermined the “ambition, commitment and consistency” needed for the UK.

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Ms Badenoch pointed out the US car giant made the statement “without even hearing what the announcement was”, and added that Toyota welcomed the move.

When asked about criticism from the chief executive of EON – who claimed the changes would mean people have to live in draughty homes – Ms Badenoch urged the leader of the energy giant to “actually look at what the prime minister announced”.

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